Are we too hard on the Rangers, or not hard enough

If this gets posted I’ll be surprised, but with all the heated debate the Lindros and the Snow articles started I thought something a little more blunt and straight to the point would stir up a better arguement. Is Sather and the Rangers the Punchline to the NHL’s worst joke, or are the fans of every other team in the league simply jealous of the spend money like its water mentality that Sather has? Read and respond.

“By Adam Proteau

The Hockey News

In January, we examined the plight of the 2002-03 New York Rangers.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Rangers are beyond bad. Imagine a triple-bill concert featuring

Roxette, Yoko Ono and The Captain & Tennille. Imagine a Tom Green

retrospective at the local cinema. Imagine being Whitney Houston’s

publicist. Imagine Dr. Phil coming to live with you for a few years.

The Rangers make all those things seem like discovering Bill Gates

libeled you in print.

In retrospect, one thing is clear: We were being too generous.

First, a quick recap: Since the season began, Rangers GM Glen Sather

has spent money like an estranged wife with incriminating photos of

her husband. He has betrayed with breathtaking abandon his Edmonton-

era mantra of fiscal responsibility, and done so wearing the smirk

that was justified when Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were crushing

the competition, but now seems ridiculously misplaced.

And, whether or not the franchise makes a highly improbable, last-

breath run into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, he

is the architect of the NHL’s biggest atrocity since Alexandre

Daigle’s rookie contract.

In that January article, we argued Sather’s then-$70-million

experiment had blown up real good, and deserved dismantling in favor

of a youth-fueled, Vancouver Canucks-like rebuild. Instead, Sather

went out and acquired Boris Mironov, Alexei Kovalev, two-thirds of

mainland China — like you’d be shocked –and Anson Carter. In total,

he signed off on cosmetic surgery ­pricetag: $10-million for a

franchise in desperate need of a heart transplant.

Now, Rangers apologists will point to Sather’s move behind the bench,

and the team’s subsequent 10-6-3-2 record under him, as proof

positive the course has been righted.

Sure it has. And Eric Lindros is the same player he was two years ago.

Slice it any way you like, folks, but there’s nothing like the bottom

line to illustrate things, and here it is: A payroll nuzzling close

to $80-million — equal to the combined salaries of the Ottawa

Senators, Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators — will be lucky

to break the .500 mark this season.

A team built to be the Harlem Globetrotters has come up playing like

the Washington Generals. That’s all you need to know.

Undoubtedly though, when the Rangers are making plans for the draft

lottery, there will be debate over whether or not Sather should get

another shot. Try convincing poor Dean Lombardi, the former Sharks GM

who still needs smelling salts to recover from a whack job reportedly

ordered because he failed to cut enough payroll from another bunch of

underachievers.

Let’s go over that again: Sather adds payroll, and goes from GM to

coach-GM. Lombardi cuts payroll, and goes from employed to the bread

lines. Is this Bizarro World? If Sather signs Sergei Fedorov and

trades for Jaromir Jagr and Patrick Roy this offseason, will he be

bumped up to chairman of Madison Square Garden? If he were forced to

grow an evil goatee, a la Captain Kirk, would we better understand

his actions?

If you’re still unconvinced of the menace Sather’s absurd spending

spree poses to the financial viability of the league, have a gander

at his comments regarding the Kovalev deal, a trade almost

universally considered to be a world-class salary dump to keep the

red-ink-laden Penguins solvent:

“I don’t think it’s a salary dump at all,” Sather said at the time,

his nose strangely the same size at the end of the sentence as it was

at the beginning. “It was difficult parting with the guys we did.”

The guys Sather parted with? Ahem: Try Rico Fata, Joel Bouchard,

Richard Lintner and Mikael Samuelsson. For Alexei Kovalev.

By “difficult'” Sather must’ve meant “difficult to keep from doubling

over with laughter as the paperwork was finalized.”

But that’s how it is with Glen Sather. He knows the right words to

say, and doesn’t care if he truly means it. When he presided over the

Oilers, you couldn’t get a word in edgewise over his “woe-is-me-us-

small-market-teams-aren’t-ever-going-to-survive-if-these-big-nasty-

cash-cow-clubs-keep-driving-up-player-salaries” tap-dance. But when

the going gets tough — and with no playoff appearances from the

Rangers in the last five seasons, tough it has gotten — ¬≠his empty

words are stomped into the mud by another fat check. (Speaking of

which, that could be the Penguins’ motto for next season: “No fat

checks.” You’re welcome, Mario.)

In a sense, it’d be nice to see the Rangers kept together next

season, if only to showcase them around the league as a cautionary

tale. For these Rangers, more than any other team in the NHL’s

history, prove a valuable lesson: Hockey is not a sport that

individuals win. Hockey doesn’t yield LeBron James-type saviors. The

George Steinbrenner philosophy of blindly slapping talent on top of

talent does not hold water around these parts. No, hockey is about

sacrifice, determination and teamwork. Guess what three things the

Rangers lack?

To sum things up, we turn to the wisdom of Pavel Bure, another

Blueshirt who’ll be red-faced when he’s on the links in a few weeks:

“We would have liked two points,” Bure told the Toronto Sun’s Mike

Ulmer after a 3-2 overtime loss to Ottawa March 13. “But one is

better than nothing.”

That’s all you need to know about Glen Sather and the New York

Rangers: They’re looking out for No. 1, and No. 1 only.

Ironic, then, that they’ve turned out to be a bunch of nothings.”


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